Jean du Plessis and Heath Richards showed sublime batting form to guide South Western Districts to a 24-run victory over the Northern Cape Heat in their T20 Knock Out match in Kimberley on Friday.
Du Plessis, the 22-year-old SWD captain, laid the foundation in a 113-run partnership with Yaseen Valli for the second wicket and then the 20-year-old Richards smashed 41 off 14 balls to give SWD a target that proved beyond the reach of the home side.
The Heat won the toss and followed the example of the earlier game of deciding to field first. The power play was a fairly even affair with SWD reaching 42 for the loss of Blayde Capell’s wicket.
Johan van Dyk captured the wicket, making good use of his physique to top the 140 km/h mark and generate enough bounce to give both opening batsmen some uncomfortable moments. His power play spell of 1-7 in two overs was well deserved.
Valli and Du Plessis stepped up the scoring rate in the middle overs, raising the 50-run partnership for the second wicket off 38 balls. They underlined the value of smart running between the wickets to augment their boundary hitting.
Du Plessis raced to his half-century off 30 balls (three fours and three sixes) and Valli followed soon afterwards (41 balls, four fours and one six) as SWD went into the back end of their innings with nine wickets in hand.
The partnership of 113 finally came to an end in the 17th over when Du Plessis was bowled by Evan Jones for 69 (39 balls, 5 fours and three sixes). Valli was dismissed for 60 off 49 balls (five fours and one six) but SWD were far from finished as Richards smashed 41 off 14 balls (three fours, four sixes and a strike rate of 293) to post a highly competitive 192-4 – 114 of those runs coming in the last 10 overs.
Van Dyk fully deserved his return of 2-34 from his 4 overs.
Jonathan Vandiar led the way when the Heat started their reply, reaching 50-1 at the end of the power play. They were, however, losing wickets too quickly with three men out by the end of the ninth over including Vandiar for 36 (21 balls, six fours).
Veteran captain Aubrey Swanepoel and the big-hitting Jones then stabilised the chase with some big overs but a brilliant diving catch in the deep to remove the former seemed to swing the game back in SWD’s favour. Jones (34 off 22 balls, five fours) did not last much longer as the asking rate moved above 12 to the over.
There was a final flourish from Qaasim Adams (31 off 24 balls, two fours) but not enough to stop a comfortable win for SWD
The bowling honours went to Hershell America (3-23).
Photo: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images